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Electrical tips to add value to your home

Clean, bright lighting and safe fixtures go over big with potential buyers

Last Updated 6/1/18
by Zack Reeves ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Home with modern lighting

Introduction

Lighting changes like switching to LED bulbs and adding exterior lighting can make your house feel more like a home, while electrical changes like replacing panels and plates can make your home safer and more efficient. Use these tips to light up your living space and make your house easier to sell in the process.

Ceiling with LED lights

Indoor LED

Prospective buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in your home, so make it as warm and inviting as possible. One way to do this (and potentially add value to your home in the process) is to change the way you light up your house. If you’re using incandescent bulbs, consider this: Incandescent bulbs convert over 90 percent of their energy to heat instead of light. This costs you money on your electricity bill, both in wasted energy from lights and extra work for your air conditioner.

If you want your house to really pop for your potential buyers, consider changing your fixtures and bulbs to light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs.

LED bulbs produce light when a current runs through small semiconductors inside the bulbs. Due to the small amount of electricity this requires, these bulbs will help lower your usage, especially if you replace all of your incandescent bulbs.

They also last much longer than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs last up to 2,000 hours, which comes out to about 250 days at eight hours of use a day. LEDs, on the other hand, claim to last up to 25,000 hours, which is 3,125 days at the same usage.

All of this can translate to big gains when it comes to convincing a buyer to purchase your home. In the kitchen, install blue-tinted LED bulbs under kitchen cabinets to add depth and illuminate counter space. In the bathroom, replace the overhead incandescent bulbs with white LED bulbs for a classic feel.

These bulbs have decreased substantially in price over the years: Some now cost as little as $2, while commercial grade bulbs run in the hundreds. Shop around and see what fits your budget and needs.

Yard lights in garden

Outdoor lighting

When potential buyers come to your home, their first impression is your home’s exterior. Make the most of this opportunity with exterior lighting fixtures to boost your house’s curb appeal.

Floodlights on your home’s exterior can be a big selling point for your buyers in terms of safety, since they reduce the amount of places a burglar could hide in your yard. Installing lights on the path leading up to your door highlights your attention to detail and makes your home safer and more inviting.

When you’re choosing outdoor lighting, there are a few things you’ll need to consider:

  • Lumens: A lumen is a unit of measurement for light; a bulb’s brightness will be marked by its lumen output. For outdoor path lighting, a lumen level of 100 works, while for high-range security lighting, you’ll want something closer to 1000 lumens.

  • Wattage: Wattage, on the other hand, measures the amount of power needed to make the light work. LED lights have lower watt usage than incandescent lights.

  • Motion sensor: As an added security and energy-saving measure, many outdoor lighting fixtures use motion sensors so you can keep them off when they’re not needed. Motion sensors range from around 10 to 60 feet, so use the size of your yard as a benchmark.

  • Price: Floodlights can cost anywhere from $30 to $400, depending on the strength and quality of the light. Outdoor path lighting usually comes in packs of four to eight, which cost between $40 and $150.

  • Solar options: Solar-powered lighting gets more affordable as the technology becomes more available. These options run either solely on solar power or with a small battery to operate the solar cell. If you’re interested in saving money and energy, check out your solar options.

Fuse box with colorful wires

Electrical updates

Panel replacement

If you’re selling an older house, consider replacing your old fuse box or breaker panel. Old panels weren’t built to handle modern levels of electricity, and can potentially overheat and cause house fires.

Don’t replace this sensitive piece of equipment without consulting a professional, since it usually involves some rewiring which could be dangerous. Plan on spending anywhere from $500-$2,000 on the replacement.

Plate replacement

For an update to your space, try installing new plate covers for your light switches and power outlets. Antique metal or marble finishes can turn these dull necessities into beautiful accents. Luxury plates won’t set you back more than $20, and simple plates cost less than $1.

That doesn’t necessarily mean this switch is cheap, though. If you have a lot of plates in your home, these costs can add up fast. Consider performing this update one room at a time, if that’s what your budget requires.

Make sure you’ve turned off the power to these outlets before you start working. Even touching the side of a live power outlet can give you a nasty shock.

Childproof outlets

While you’re swapping out your plates, think about investing in childproof power outlets. This is especially important if you’re trying to sell your home to families with children.

Tamper-resistant outlets have spring-loaded shutters inside their slots. These shutters protect the slots from small items like fork tines being pushed through, causing a possible electric shock. They range in price from $4 to $15, so you can do this replacement on a budget.

Since 2008, the National Electrical Code has required childproof outlets in all new houses in the United States. Having a house that’s up to code brings peace of mind, and that’s exactly what your buyer wants.

String lights hanging outside

Conclusion

When you’re selling your home, good lighting and accessories can make prospective buyers feel much more comfortable and safe.

Most of these adjustments to your electrical system won’t break the bank, and they can go a long way toward increasing the value of your home. Plus, they don’t take up much time, leaving you more time to deal with what really matters: selling your house.

Head to your local hardware or lighting store and pick up some new fixtures, panels and plates for your home. A little work can go a long way in adding value to your home.

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by Zack Reeves ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As part of the Consumer Affairs Research Team, Zack Reeves creates content that helps consumers make important decisions. He parses through fine details to present buyers with all the information they need to improve their lives.

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